Communications Plan Contact Lists
During an emergency, it is critical that hospitals have a system to contact appropriate staff, patients’ treating physicians, and other necessary persons in a timely manner to ensure the continuation of patient care functions throughout the hospital and to ensure that these functions are carried out in a safe and effective manner.
Healthcare organizations should keep updated contact information so that in an emergency event, the appropriate individual or organization can be reached in a timely fashion per CMS regulation § 482.15(c)(1). CMS regulation § 482.15(c)(2) further requires hospitals to have contact information for federal, state, tribal, regional, or local emergency preparedness staff and other sources of assistance.
The purpose of reaching out to a contact should be included, so it is clear who should be contacted for what reason in any given situation. The following is a suggested group of contact lists that should be maintained by a healthcare organization to provide needed information during an emergency incident response. Each list is described and a template spreadsheet is available.
- Eternal Contact Information
- Staff Contact Information
- Physician Contact Information
- Volunteer Contact Information
External Contact Information – External Contact Template
External contacts should include local, regional, and federal emergency management organizations, Public Health organizations, and other government groups. It is also important to include non-government organizations (NGO’s) that may be important in an emergency, in this area such groups might include the NWHRN and DMCC hospitals.
Other healthcare organizations should be included on the contact list. Most importantly are those organizations for which you may already have mutual aid agreements or organization used to place patients who may need to be evacuated to open space for critically injured patients.
Staff Contact Information – Staff Contact Template
Hospitals should be able to contact staff during emergencies. Reasons for contact may include canceling shifts, determining which staff are actually on duty or on-site, or reaching out to staff to help with surge needs. It should be decided whether roles for staff will be adjusted or increased during emergency events, and if so, those roles should be clarified and documented.
Physicians’ Contact Information – Physician Contact Template
Hospitals should be able to contact patients’ physicians in a timely manner during emergency events. Hospitals should maintain updated contact information for physicians and include multiple ways to reach their patients’ physicians.
If your organization has an Operator Services group or uses a paging service this information may also be maintained with these organizations. However, there should be a process to provide a regular update to your Incident Command Communications Plan. The update may be a hard copy printout or electronic spreadsheet that is stored locally in the event that you are unable to reach the operator or paging service (if not local to your organization)
Volunteer Contact Information – Volunteer Contact Template
Hospitals should be able to contact volunteers during emergencies. Reasons for contact may include canceling shifts, determining which volunteers are actually on duty or on-site, or reaching out to volunteers to help with surge needs. It should be decided whether roles for volunteers will be adjusted or increased during emergency events, and if so, those roles should be clarified and documented.
PACE Plans are a framework to document the primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency means of communication with relevant individuals/partners. CMS requests that healthcare organizations should have at least two methods of communicating with staff and relevant partners. A PACE plan extends this planning to four methods. The alternate method should be easily accessible, in the event that the primary method becomes unavailable, and should be agreeable to both the hospital and the entity they are communicating with. Primary and alternate methods of communication may vary based on who the hospital is trying to contact (for example, primary and alternate methods of communication may be different for staff than they are for state emergency management staff), but should be decided and documented before emergency events occur so that communication expectations are clear in emergency events.